I am anxiously awaiting warmer days. I am ready to trade in my winter coat for lighter layers and I just purchased a peek-a-boo cotton sweater from Zara that I am dying to wear on a sunny day. Thankfully, this past winter was not too treacherous. I think we only had one major storm, Jonas. It was about three months after Arin was born and during his afternoon nap, Rian, Maithil and I bundled up and played in the snow right outside of our house. This was the first time that Rian had actively played with snow. He was bundled in multiple layers, including two pairs of socks! We didn’t even have snow boots for him but he could have cared less. He loved being outside, trekking through the narrow cleared passages outlined by tall mounds of snow and making and throwing snowballs. He was completely in awe of how snow could just melt away in his mittens and water could seep in. Seeing him really took me back to the first time I experienced snow in the winter of 1994, when we had first moved to New Jersey from India. Seeing the world through his eyes can be truly enchanting.
The past few months have been a real adjustment; we were warned by friends and family that going from one to two children is a big shift. Being a mom to two curious, active, playful, and of course, handsome boys has been a real joy. They have really taught me the definition of unconditional love. However, we have had to fundamentally change our thinking and expectations and create a new normal. These are our new truths:
- With one, we could split our time with him and still have some sense of personal time. Now, it is always a divide and conquer mentality and it’s rare that one of us is ever fully without a child or responsibilities related to the kids. Personal time has to be planned.
- Laundry is never-ending
- There are always bottles waiting to be washed
- Breast feeding and toddler feeding requires conscious meal planning
- Toddler tantrums are real
- The same sleep training rules do not apply for your second
- Growth spurts are also real and make you feel like you barely know your child
- Our portable Dyson has become my favorite accessory
- Multi-tasking is a minimum requirement
- No two days will ever be the same
- Date nights are not easy to plan, mostly because we are in a constant state of feeling tired. But, we cherish them when they do happen!
We are really in the thick of things right now. I can see things getting better as the kids get older and become a bit more independent and Arin begins sleeping through the night. Motherhood, I’m mastering you one day at a time. Keep the surprises coming!
Every time someone asks me Rian’s age, I am constantly surprised at how quickly the number is increasing. He is now 22 months. That is 2 months shy of 2 years old. I can’t even begin to wrap my head about that! Where did the time go? Rian is very active, curious, energetic, funny, perceptive, and to top it all off, he has a killer smile (he gets away with so much because of his smile). In the past few months, his vocabulary has been growing by the day. He speaks and understands English and Gujarati as well as certain words and phrases in Spanish and sign language. I speak Rian’s language the best and can decipher it 99% of the time. Here are a few of his recent conversations:
Nani (my mom): Rian, eat up or the Police will come!
Rian: No… (with the face above)
Nani: Eat please Rian.
Rian: Nani, Police! Police!
Nani: Do you want me to call them?
It really stresses Rian out when Arin randomly begins to cry in the car.
Rian: Baby, no cry! (with the face above)
Rian: Baby, stop it!
Rian: Baby, gummy-gummy (Rian’s word for milk). Mommy, baby dudhu (milk in Gujarati).
Me: Rian, does baby want milk? Is that why he is crying?
Rian: Mommy gummy. Baby no cry!
For meal times, Rian loves to sit and stare out of the dining room window and comment on the traffic or the on-goings in our development.
Rian, when he sees the garbage cans placed outside all of the driveways: Cuppa-kay (Rian’s word for garbage can)! More cuppa-can (Can/kay are interchangeable)! Cuppa-kay truck come!
Me: Do you want the garbage truck to come?
Rian: Gah-bage truck coooooooome! Cooooome!
Rian, when the garbage truck first pull into our development: YAAAAY! Cuppa-kay truck! (He always celebrates with great delight.)
Me: Rian, do you want to go in the garbage truck?
Rian: Yes! Inside!
Me: Where do you put the garbage that is outside?
Rian: Cuppa-kay truck, inside. Rian, inside! Rian do it!
Rian, as the truck comes closer to our house: Come! More cuppa-can, come!
Me: Rian, can you please say thank you to them?
Rian: signs the gesture for thank you.
Rian as they leave our development: Bye cuppa-kay truck! Cuppa-kay buh-byeeee!
Me: Bye truck, love you!
The garbage truck is invaluable when Rian is being fussy about his breakfast. Thank you cuppa-kay!
Oh Rian, how we love you my little chatter-box!
I have never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day. You should express and celebrate love every day or at least more often than just once a year. But, I do love the gifting aspect of this day. It’s one of the few holidays where you can explore your witty, fun side and cheesy gestures and presents are treasured. For Rian’s daycare teachers, as a token of our appreciation, I am making sweet treat bags filled with a monogrammed mug, fruit spread, peanut butter cups, and chocolate covered almonds. While most everything is edible (from Trader Joe’s), I did want to include something that they could keep as a memory and use regularly – the mug. I hope they enjoy them as much as I liked compiling them!
It has been three weeks since I went back to work. 12 weeks of maternity leave flew by! To say that maternity leave in this country is not nearly adequate would be a huge understatement. (Like most moms, I can write a book about this injustice.) Going back to work after Rian was an easier transition, especially since my mother-in-law was living with us and caring for him while we were gone. Now, with two kids under two, the game has changed completely. It’s always a divide and conquer mentality with little rest and recovery time in between. Also, it is just never easy leaving a piece of you behind to focus your energies on something else. It almost makes me feel like I’m cheating on my kids with work. There was a point during my maternity leave where I didn’t think that I would go back to work at all until Arin turned one and started daycare. But, I soon realized that having a balance was key with my personality. Mostly, it is just nice to be able to feel productive, have adult conversations and be out and about.
Thankfully I was able to come back to work on a part-time, three days a week basis. Week one was heartbreaking but every week gets a bit easier. It’s also a huge relief to know that Arin is in the great hands of my parents when I am at work – it certainly takes a village. The guilt of leaving him (that sinking feeling in the pit of stomach) may never fully go away but it will really make me cherish the days that I am home with him.
Most importantly, happy belated 2016! I hope you had a wonderful holiday break. Ours was pretty low key. We always spend Christmas and New Year’s with my sisters-in-law. For New Year’s, we stayed in, played board games with the kids and ate and drank in our pajamas. Rian probably had the best time out of everyone, chasing after his cousins and being the center of attention. The holidays always remind me just how lucky I am to have married into a close knit, big family. Though it certainly gets chaotic at times, the love and care is purely unconditional. Celebrating Arin’s first Christmas with everyone was the icing on the cake for me. He was my favorite present this year!
Can you believe that holiday season is right around the corner (Thanksgiving is just 2 weeks away – eek!)? My favorite part about this time of year, aside from the abundance of scrumptious foods, is seeing friends and family. The holiday spirit usually brings out the best in people, making it that much more fun to maintain and create new traditions. Whether we are hosting or visiting loved ones, I really enjoy giving cheerful homemade mementos as a token of our love and appreciation. These are a few of the recipes that have caught my eye recently. Just wrap up any of these in a box/tin/jar/bag, add a sweet note, and you have a present that anyone would enjoy.
Yesterday marked Arin’s one month birthday! It feels like we have known him for much longer than that. Having two under the age of two is no cakewalk, oh the struggle is very real. But the lack of sleep and time all seem like a tiny price to pay when I catch Arin smiling or see the bond that is already developing between the brothers. Rian is very affectionate towards Arin, always wanting to hold his bottle or give him a tight hug or a juicy kiss. He knows all of Arin’s belongings and is always fetching them for us. Rian has regressed in his sleeping schedule since Arin’s arrival, awaking at least once each night. I think he sees the attention that Arin receives when he first awakes and wants the same for himself. But, I know things will get a bit easier as the boys grow and we fall into a more predictable routine. More
I pride myself on being a thoughtful gift giver. Picking the right present for someone is an art. I factor in the occasion, the person’s personality and taste and keep a loose budget in mind. Dare I say that I may like shopping for others more than shopping for myself at times? Bold statement, I know, but it may very well be true. I also love receiving a good gift (who doesn’t?). Even if it is something that I will use rarely, I always appreciate the thought behind the present. This is the main reason that I don’t have the heart to re-gift or return. I’ll only ever do either if I really have no use for the present or if I have something identical. Recently, we have been receiving many gifts (clothes, blankets, toys) for Arin. My favorite thing to do, as a thank you, is to take a picture of Arin using the present and send it to the gifter. After all, gifts are meant to be used and loved.
Do you believe in re-gifting or returning presents? (Be honest now!)
Thank you Miss Maria (Rian’s daycare teacher) for Arin’s outfit!
In the immediate weeks after giving birth to Rian, my default dress code included leggings, joggers, yoga gear, sweatshirts, and loose, tunic-like tops. My love for assembling an ensemble was over-ridden by the adjustments of early motherhood. With Arin, I now know that having a routine, a very flexible one, is a crucial factor in maintaining my happiness. With Rian, my days solely revolved around him and it took a real toll on my mental and physical health. Now, I make a conscious effort to have my meals on time, get dressed every morning, read my favorite blogs, keep up with the news, and carve out some alone time with Maithil. At times, the only alone time we have is the two to three minutes it takes me to drive him to the train and then pick him up in the evening. It also gets me out of the house and gives me a reason to pull myself together. Seeing that “you look pretty” look in his eyes or even receiving a complement is quite the motivator these days. More
With two kids, having any personal time is a rare luxury. Feeding Arin (breastfeeding or pumping) is my time. With Rian, I was slow to catch on to this notion. But, once I went back to work, I would pump and answer work emails simultaneously. Then, I started watching shows and movies during that time. Now, I use feeding time to read, create grocery lists, shop, plan, and of course, watch and listen to anything interesting. Most recently, I watched a documentary about the life of the 93-year-old witty, free-spirited fashion icon, Iris Apfel. Made by Albert Maysles, the film really captures her beliefs, showcases her unique eye for detail and brings in a real human element by having commentary from her husband. I still recall the first time I saw an image of her – I was an intern at Coach and came across a photograph of her by our creative studio. Something about her eyes made me curious to learn more. I have followed her work since then and my respect for her has only grown over the years. There is a lot one can learn from her and namely, one quote has really stuck with me. Iris says is best with, “I feel lucky to be working. If you’re lucky enough to do something you love, everything else follows.”
Image via Vogue Italia, 2007 by Bruce Weber